No one wants to die alone. With our foundational Scripture story of Lazarus being excluded and left outside, this article highlights one way of being present to those who are dying alone.
Sr. Madeleine Meagher is part of NODA meaning No One Dies Alone, a program in which a volunteer sits with a palliative care patient who has no family/relatives or in some cases the family member is too sick or elderly to be present. The volunteer provides companionship and looks for opportunities to offer comfort through music, massage, or by reading and praying with the patient. All depends on the preference of the one dying if they are able to communicate.
Recently, a homeless patient was brought to the hospital having collapsed at a gas station. The patient could not be identified, as he was unconscious. After being finger printed he was identified with a few names. He never regained consciousness and died peacefully with someone at his bedside most of the time. The nursing staff appreciates the NODA volunteers as they have so little time to sit with the dying. The experience gives the volunteers a greater appreciation of life. What a great place for a Sister of Charity to accompany someone who has no one.
Sr Madeleine also works with the food program at Holy Trinity Church where food is delivered to poor families. Twice a month on Saturday morning volunteers drive to the center and pack their cars with food. They are given addresses so that they can deliver the food directly to the homes. At Thanksgiving and Christmas extra food is distributed including a turkey and ham. Some families are helped with their rent. Most of the food is provided by the parishioners who develop an awareness of the poor in their neighborhood. If the sister encounters the poor in her area she can request this service for them. This is truly a ministry after Pope Francis’ vision.